The WOW factor in any yard

By Mary Lynn Bruny

To the delight of gardeners everywhere, each year growers introduce a host of enticing new plants for purchase. Either they’re versions of old favorites with an exciting new twist or they’re completely novel.

While some have been around a few years, others are so new that production hasn’t ramped up enough to meet demand. Sorry, you may have to wait until next spring to buy them.

If you see a new plant you really like at a local nursery, you might want to buy it immediately; often nurseries get only one shipment of recent introductions. If you can’t find a plant locally, you most likely can find it online.

Here are 12 particularly noteworthy new plants.

Bloomerang Purple Lilac

(Syringa x ‘Penda’)

Bloomerang-purpleWhat’s better than having something that’s absolutely spectacular? Having more of it, of course! The Bloomerang Purple Lilac delivers just that: blooming once in spring and again in summer.

“It’s a very, very exciting thing,” says Nicholas Staddon, director of new plants for Monrovia growers in Azusa, Calif. “People are besotted with lilacs. They love the smell and the colors; they love to cut them and bring them indoors. But all too soon those flowers are gone. To have a lilac that’s a repeat bloomer is a great innovation.”

This compact, mounded variety is smaller than standard lilacs—topping out at 5-feet tall and wide, making it more usable in smaller gardens. “In two short years, this has become our most popular lilac,” says Chad Gibson of The Tree Farm in Longmont. “It gives you color and fragrance when most other shrubs are done for the year. It seems that while the plant is establishing, the second flush of blossoms in July is not as prolific as the spring flush. But as it grows older, more and more summer flowers appear.”

Staddon adds the bush would benefit from dappled shade in the late afternoon due to Colorado’s intense sun.

Description: Deciduous shrub, 4- to 5-feet tall and wide, with violet-blue flowers in spring and summer

Requirements: Full sun, moderate water

Features: Attracts butterflies, deer resistant

 

Brandywine Viburnum
(Viburnum nudum ‘Bulk’)

Brandywine viburnumTwo different colors of berries on one bush at the same time? How is that even possible?

“It’s a very old berry color that has been brought back,” Staddon says of the Brandywine Viburnum. “If you go way, way back to some of the old, old viburnums, there were some two-toned colors out there.”

This bush is graceful from spring to fall. Fragrant white spring flowers give way to berries that transform from green to vivid pink and blue. In fall, the glossy leaves change to a showy dark maroon-red.

Description: Deciduous shrub, 5- to 6-feet tall
and wide

Requirements: Full to partial sun, moderate water

Features: Attracts birds, deer resistant

 

Golden Ruby Barberry
(Berberis thunbergii ‘Goruzam’)

Golden Ruby BarberryEasygoing barberry bushes bring winter structure and summer color to the garden. The petite, eye-catching Golden Ruby Barberry is no exception.

“It’s the most striking color of any barberry I’ve seen,” Staddon says. “When the new growth first comes out in spring, it’s the orange color of sea coral. As the leaf matures and hardens off, you get the most deep-burgundy center, with a gold ring around the edge.”

Golden Ruby is a short, compact, slow-growing bush that is very cold-hardy. It sets little or no seed, so the plant puts more effort into color and form.

“This is an awesome introduction that is getting more and more popular,” Gibson says. “We tend to sell more of these later in the season when the gold margin begins to show. Be sure to plant it in lots of sun. If it’s too shady, the gold margins won’t develop and the plant’s lower and interior foliage will not turn red.”


Description:
Deciduous shrub, 2-feet tall and wide

Requirements:Full sun, moderate water

Features: Deer resistant

 

Double Take Orange Storm Flowering Quince

(Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Orange Storm’)

Doubletake OrangeYou don’t always have to take the good with the bad, at least when it comes to quinces. With the Double Take Orange Storm Flowering Quince, you actually take the good with the good!

“They are thornless and fruitless, which gives them a much longer blooming season than the regular quinces. They are absolutely unique,” Staddon says. “The blooms are an inch to an inch-and-a-half across, compared to about a half-inch on a standard quince. There are semi-doubles in the industry, but this plant is a breakthrough, because it has bigger flowers, more petals and brighter colors.”

Since they’re thornless, you can safely cut branches in the spring when the buds are about to open and bring them indoors to bloom, much like forsythia.

“Full sun provides the best display of blossoms and also keeps the branching and foliage dense,” Gibson says. “Too much shade and they become sparse. They also like to spread, so give them room. If they do overgrow their area, the fact that they’re thornless makes them less intimidating to prune than other varieties.”

Description: Thornless deciduous shrub, 3- to 4-feet tall and wide

Requirements: Full to partial sun, low water

Features: Deer resistant

 

Birthday Party Sedum
(Sedum ‘Birthday Party’)

Birthday Party SedumSometimes you buy a plant just because it has a great name (who wouldn’t want a ‘Happy Chappy’ rose?). If you like bright pops of garden color, this shockingly pink sedum is for you. And the interesting purple-brown tinted leaves provide color before the blooms begin in summer and last through fall.

“It’s a very, very new plant,” Staddon says. “It’s got a great punchy color, and it is so rounded and mounded. The flower heads won’t drag the stems over.”

Description: Semi-evergreen perennial, 20-inches tall by 8-inches wide

Requirements: Full sun, low water

Features: Deer resistant

 

Black Prince Echeveria
(Echeveria ‘Black Prince’)

Black Prince EcheveriaBlack Prince Echeveria is not new, but improved propagation techniques have made it more readily available. And thank goodness, because this is one dramatic succulent!

“Besides being this unique dark-chocolate color, it has a really shiny leaf,” Staddon notes. In fall, the plant produces gorgeous salmon-red flowers. Black Prince works wonderfully in outdoor containers due to its low-water needs and slow growth. Its diminutive size makes it a natural for tabletop pots. Black Prince is a perennial hardy to Zone 9, so treat it like an annual or keep it alive by bringing it indoors before winter.

“Echeveria are very much in vogue right now, with people mainly using them in containers,” Staddon says. “If you plant them in a highly glazed blue or red container, it really shows off their colors.”

Description: Evergreen succulent, 4- to 10-inches tall and wide

Requirements: Full to partial sun, low water

Features: Deer resistant

 

Burgundy Fireworks Coneflower

(Echinacea ‘Burgundy Fireworks’)

Burgundy FireworksYou can’t beat coneflowers’ hardiness and long-lasting blooms. Early varieties were disappointing, though, as they often didn’t make it through winter or faded in color. But good growers have mastered these issues, and gardeners can now find many exciting new cone-flowers—and the flashy Burgundy Fireworks is one.

“Burgundy Fireworks has very narrow, spiky petals,” Staddon says. “You have the stunning red flower from summer to fall, plus a very dark stem. The petals aren’t droopy and hold up, so it makes for a better cut flower.” Many people harvest and dry them, and use them for arrangements in the winter, he says.

“I love this coneflower,” says Ann Hartman-Mahr, perennials manager at The Flower Bin in Longmont. “It’s compact and has deep-purple-black stems. It’s a stiff, erect plant, so it doesn’t flop.”

Description: Herbaceous perennial, 18-inches tall and wide

Requirements: Full sun, regular water

Features: Attracts birds, bees and butterflies

 

Hosta ‘Curly Fries’

Hosta Curly FriesHostas are the foliage queens in Colorado gardens, providing a lush contrast to our spiky indigenous plants. The trouble is, they’re often too large for smaller gardens and even a little sun can be too harsh for them. Enter ‘Curly Fries’.

“This is a very interesting small new hosta, with these great curly leaves and red stems,” says Hartman-Mahr. “Its chartreuse-y color means it can handle more sun than other hostas.” To keep the leaves brightly colored, position the hosta to get morning sun. In midsummer the plant produces sweet lavender-colored flowers.

Description: Deciduous perennial, 6-inches tall by 16-inches wide

Requirements: Morning sun to full shade,
consistent water

Features: Attracts hummingbirds

 

Vancouver Fragrant Star Clematis
(Clematis x ‘Fragrant Star’)

Vancouver Fragrant StarWhile some smaller-flowered clematis such as the vitacellas have fragrance, scent has always eluded the popular large-flowered hybrids—until now. The Vancouver Fragrant Star Clematis has it all: It’s easy-to-grow and produces huge 6- to 8-inch pure-white flowers with a vanilla-like scent and deep-red-to-purple stamens.

“The scent is not what I would call heady,” Staddon says, “but it’s certainly enough so that you get a soft sweet smell.”

“It’s so easy to take care of,” Gibson notes. “It blooms on old and new wood so pruning is less of an issue. For best results, prune it after the first flush of flowers in late spring and you’ll enjoy a second flush in early fall.”

This smallish clematis can also be planted in a container, as long as it has something to climb like a small trellis or tripod.

Description: Deciduous vine, 6- to 8-feet tall

Requirements: Full to partial sun, regular watering

Features: Attracts butterflies

 

Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass
(Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’)

Blonde Ambition Blue GammaNursery professionals are atwitter about this grass, currently rated the overall best performer for 3,000- to 5,000-foot elevations by Plant Select.

“Blonde Ambition starts off blue-green in color and gets a great seed head in mid-to-late summer,” Staddon says. “Then it turns an exquisite straw color in wintertime. When it snows, it looks even better. The snow sits atop the golden seed heads. It’s absolutely exquisite.”

Stiff, weather-resistant stems keep Blonde Ambition upright year-round, even though it’s larger than other gramas.

Description: Semi-evergreen ornamental grass, 3-feet tall and wide

Requirements: Partial to full sun, low water

 

Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’

(Gomphrena hybrid)

Gomphrena Pink ZazzleSome people who see ‘Pink Zazzle’ for the first time and touch its huge 2- to 3-inch magenta flowers may think it’s fake. “When you touch it, it feels like you’re touching a plastic flower,” says Kim Jackson, annuals manager at The Flower Bin. “I know that sounds odd, but when you touch it, you’re like, ‘Whoa, that’s cool.’ There’s nothing else like it out there.”

The durable, big blooms last for three weeks, fading to softer pink with creamy white tips as they age. “The leaves are soft and fuzzy—neat to touch,” Jackson says. The plant loves sun and is extremely heat-tolerant, flowering consistently spring through fall.

“Because it’s so wide and full, it fills up a pot completely and looks great. I don’t think you would appreciate it as much in the ground. You could also place it inside in a nice sunny window.”

Description: Mounding trailing annual, 12- to 16-inches tall and wide

Requirements: Full to partial sun, low water

Features: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

 

Bounce Impatiens

(Impatiens hybrid Bounce)

Bounce ImpatiensThere’s nothing quite as discouraging on a long, hot summer day as coming home to wilted annuals you forgot to water. Luckily, Bounce Impatiens bounces back.

“These Bounce Impatiens are really the cat’s meow,” Staddon says. “If they dry out and wilt, they bounce back quickly after they’re watered.” Bounce Impatiens come in several colors and bloom continuously from spring to first frost. “The other thing is they can tolerate some sun.” In Colorado, that means early morning or filtered sunlight.

Description: Annual, 14- to 20-inches tall and wide

Requirements: Full shade to filtered or morning sun, regular watering

Features: Attracts butterflies